“Cocaine is God’s way of telling you your making too much money.”
Now, your flesh being eaten away and the risk of having your ear fall off may be God’s way of telling you ‘”Cocaine is just plain stupid and really, really dangerous.”
Oh, and just in case you did not learn this already, your dealers – everyone from Mexico or Columbia to the guy on the corner – only wants your money, even if it means you get a skin eating infection.
That appears to be the summary of research by Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, and reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
“It’s probably quite a big problem, and we just don’t know yet how big a problem it really is,” notes Craft, referring to his study of six cocaine users recently plagued by dark purple patches of dying flesh – a problem that appears to be national.
Craft has joined an increasing number of physicians across the country who havelinked rotting skin to levamisole-tainted cocaine. The damage appears several days after using cocaine because of an immune reaction that attacks the blood vessels supplying the skin. It’s simple: Without blood, the skin suffocates and starves, turns blue and black and necrotic.
According to an April 2011 report by the U.S. Drug Administration, 82 % of seized cocaine contains levamisole, which is used as a filler probably because it acts on the same brain receptors as cocaine and might enhance or extend the drug’s euphoric effects – on the cheap until your ear or cheeks start to die. Levamisole is a veterinary antibiotic normally used to deworm cattle, sheep, and pigs.
“We don’t know who is this is going to happen to,” reports Dr. Lindy Fox, the University of California, San Francisco, dermatologist who first connected the gruesome lesions on cocaine users to levamisole. Researchers are not yet able to determine why some levamisole users are more at risk than others. However, Fox reported once seeing a photo of a man whose entire body, face included, was black with dying flesh. Even after the drug has cleared the body, levamisole may leave scars.
In addition, levamisole also prevents the cocaine user’s bone marrow from producing infection-fighting white blood cells. “Rich or poor, black or white,” anyone who uses cocaine is at risk, according to Craft. “It’s a bit like having HIV. About 10 percent of those patients will die from severe infections. They may be walking around like a time bomb.”